New policy: What’s published is permanent

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By the BP Editorial Board

Teenagers sometimes do things that they regret. After all, isn’t part of growing up making mistakes?

Sadly, in today’s day and age, it isn’t so easy to pretend that those mess-ups never happened.  Once something is on the Internet, it is on the Internet forever.

Recently, a Shalhevet alumna asked us to remove her name from something published last year.  It sounded like a simple request, but removing her comments would have seriously weakened the story, so we decided instead to change her name to a false name. The alumna thanked us.

Then, we realized that the name change made our story untrue– someone now named and quoted in a Boiling Point story is a person who does not exist. This misleads our readers and undermines our credibility.

The editors of the Boiling Point met to discuss this issue, and decided in the future to turn down requests like this.  Beginning now, we will decline to edit the  historical record unless the facts of a story have changed.

If the facts of a story do change, we will make it clear that our story has been edited to reflect new facts. That way, anyone reading our stories will have an accurate picture of what unfolded and when.

Before the Internet, high school newspapers never had to deal with this problem. Commercial publications had clipping libraries and librarians to archive their past stories, but high school newspapers did not, and nobody would look up what students said in high school.

But times have changed, and the possibility exists.

We understand that students sometimes say things that they regret. But most quotes you give will not be hurting you down the road. Commenting on how heavy your textbooks are, how hot the weather in the JCC is or whether a new class is succeeding shouldn’t cause future embarrassment.

When The Boiling Point conducts polls about sensitive questions like drinking alcohol or texting while driving, responses are always anonymous.  And in one-on-one interviews, you have that option – and we have the option to not use what you tell us.

The Boiling Point prides itself on accurate reporting.  So unless the facts of a story change or it is found to be libelous, dangerous or bullying, from this point forward we will not alter students’ names, quotes, photos or other information at your request, whether in website-published news or feature stories, photographs, blogs or stories in print.

Just as a Facebook post gone wrong will never truly go away, neither will a Boiling Point story. We publish all of our stories on our website, which means that the quotes you give us will be archived on the Internet — forever.